Five bold predictions for 2019 Raiders season on training-camp week
Josh Jacobs will win Offensive Rookie of the Year
Yes, I know all about Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury and the Air Raid down in the desert. I also believe that Murray and Kingsbury will be a successful pairing and I expect the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner to put up solid numbers during his rookie season.
That being said, I expect Josh Jacobs to be fed the ball early and often in Oakland. That's why he was drafted with the No. 24 overall selection. The Raiders need a bell cow, and Jacobs has limited wear on his tires thanks to the talented backfield he was apart of at Alabama. Jacobs also will see a lot of work in the passing game and has the skills to be a great pass-catching weapon. With dynamic receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams both in the fold, that could lead to Jacobs facing less-stacked boxes and he should feast on them.
Prediction: 1,250 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 645 receiving yards, six touchdowns.
Antonio Brown will lead NFL in touchdowns, receiving yards
Alright, so as far as bold goes I'm not exactly going out on a ledge with this one.
Brown has been one of, if not the best, receiver in football over the past five seasons. He seems ultra motivated after his fallout with the Steelers and offseason trade. He's been working out with bricks and weird goggles. He and Carr have been hitting up parks to work on their timing.
A motivated Brown is a dangerous Brown, and I expect he and Carr to put up massive numbers this season.
Prediction: 1,621 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Clelin Ferrell will have double-digit sacks
After only notching 13 total sacks last season, the Raiders had to improve their pass rush. So, they drafted Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Clemson product will be thrown into the fire right away. Even though some teams had others above Ferrell on their draft boards, I expect the rangy rusher to make an immediate impact and give the Raiders the pass-rush threat Paul Guenther desperately needs.
Prediction: 10 1/2 sacks
Derek Carr throws 40 touchdown passes
Year 1 in head coach Jon Gruden's system didn't go well for Carr due to a multitude of issues. The offensive struggled with the heavy zone-blocking scheme and the running game suffered as a result. Carr also lacked a legitimate No. 1 and No. 2 receiver after the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. (They never had a true No. 2).
Now Carr will enter the season with Brown and Williams on the outside, rookie Hunter Renfrow or veteran Ryan Grant in the slot, speedy Darren Waller at tight end and Jacobs in the backfield. It's safe to say Carr has the proper weapons to succeed in 2019 and I think he will.
The Fresno State product appears to be itching at the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong, even throwing in a little quip during OTAs about throwing the ball down the field -- something he's been criticized for not doing.
With a whole season of Gruden's system under his belt, I expect Carr, Brown and Williams to show off their chemistry early and often en route to a big statistical year.
Prediction: 41 touchdowns and 4,530 yards.
Raiders will make the playoffs
Was there any other way for the bold predictions to end?
I know the Raiders have the toughest schedule in the NFL. After opening the season with two straight home games, the Silver and Black hits the road for six straight road games which likely will determine the trajectory of their season.
The Raiders will split their first two games at home before embarking on their road trip. I've got them beating the Bears and Vikings but losing to the Colts, Packers and Texans to head into the back half of the season at 3-4. But there's no quit in these Raiders, as Gruden's club gets to .500 with a win over the Lions.
After grinding through November, the Raiders enter December at 6-5 but lose back-to-back games to the Chiefs and Titans to fall to 6-7.
Needing to win out to make the Wild Card Round, the Raiders roll over the Jaguars and stun the Chargers to set up or win-and-in Week 17 game in Denver. Carr tosses three touchdowns and the Raiders hassle rookie quarterback Drew Lock in a 24-10 win, setting up a date with the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card Round.
The Silver and Black are back in the playoff dance.